History | Wilson Center


Law and the Russian State: Russia’s Legal Evolution from Peter the Great to Vladimir Putin

Russia is often portrayed as a regressive, even lawless, country, and yet the Russian state has played a major role in shaping and experimenting with law as an instrument of power. In Law and the Russian State, William Pomeranz examines Russia's legal evolution from Peter the Great to Vladimir Putin, addressing the continuities and disruptions of Russian law during the imperial, Soviet, and post-Soviet periods. The book covers key themes, including:

Actors and Control: The Struggle for History and Memory in Russia

The past is an important resource that Russian politicians and businesspeople use to replace ideology, frame policies or earn money. The state attempts to control the use of history by outside actors, but similarly instrumentalizes it for its own purposes. However, in the last five years, alternative social actors (the Yeltsin Center, the Immortal Regiment, various Orthodox groups and others) have emerged within Russia to claim their right to control the past and challenge the state monopoly on memory.

CANCELLED: Panel Discussion on Great Powers

Due to inclement weather, federal offices are closed and the Washington History Seminar Panel Discussion, scheduled for Monday, January 14 at 4pm, is canceled. We apologize for the inconvenience, the WHS will meet again on Monday, January 28.


What History Tells Us about the Prospects for Brazil–U.S. Rapprochement under Bolsonaro

Hopes are running high for the United States and Brazil. There is the prospect of a personal rapport between the apparent kindred spirits now occupying the presidencies of both countries, Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro. There is the promise of policy alignment on issues like the location of their embassies in Israel and their economic attitudes towards China. And there is also a rare and widespread optimism — however cautious — among the international business and financial communities regarding the potential opening of Brazil’s historically closed economy.

Event Recap: Islamic Law, the Nation State, and the Case of Pakistan

In recent decades, ambivalence toward modernity, along with the promise of justice and morality, have led to efforts in some Muslim-majority countries to partially “Islamize” the state. Pakistan presents an important case study. Pakistan’s Islamization program in the 1970s and 1980s promised increased justice and other public goods by virtue of laws purportedly rooted in revelation. This program has resulted in some controversial outcomes, such as Pakistan’s blasphemy law.

Announcing the Spring 2019 Washington History Seminar Schedule

The Woodrow Wilson Center and the National History Center are delighted to announce the schedule for the spring season of the Washington History Seminar.  Spring 2019 offers an exciting lineup of speakers who will be sure to sustain the seminar’s reputation as one of Washington D.C.’s most intellectually vibrant venues for thinking about the past and establishing its relevance to the present.  Each week the seminar offers fresh perspectives on an important historical topic, bringing distinguished senior scholars, talented young historians, and other inquiring minds to talk about their recen

"Stalin and the Black Book of Soviet Jewry" and "The Road to Babi Yar"

Organized by the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center with support from the Embassy of Israel in the United States and Rabin Chair Forum at George Washington University

*Note: Each screening takes place at a different location and requires separate registration. All screenings are free and open to the public. More information and registration information coming soon.

The Road to Babi Yar”: Film Screening and Discussion

January 28, 7:00PM